Gambling is the process of placing bets on games or events, either online or in a physical casino. It is a fun way to pass the time and win money, but it can also be dangerous and unhealthy. The National Gambling Helpline says over half the population in England takes part in some form of gambling. It can lead to serious health problems, financial losses, poor relationships and can even get you into trouble with the law.
Identifying harms from gambling
The research project began with in-depth interviews (n = 25) with people who identified that they had experienced harm from their own or someone else’s gambling. These interviews were conducted in person and via telephone. In these interviews, individuals were asked to describe the type and extent of harm they had experienced.
Initially six different thematic classifications of harm were identified: financial harms, those harms relating to relationships, emotional or psychological harms, impacts on the person’s health, impacts on work, study or economic activity and criminal acts. Further analysis involving people from CALD groups and indigenous populations identified a seventh classification of harm: cultural harms.
This is a more inclusive approach that enables the inclusion of any initial or exacerbated adverse consequences that may occur as a result of engagement with gambling. It allows for a more thorough understanding of the experience of harm across multiple domains and levels of a person’s life, including those who gamble and those who have not accessed the support services available for their gambling related problems. This more comprehensive perspective on harm is consistent with a World Health Organization definition of health.
Harm and the concept of harm were first discussed in the context of problem gambling [1, 2]. However, it is important to highlight that a lack of a defined definition for harm in relation to gambling, and the different ways in which gambling related harms have been conceptualised from these disciplines, has led to a lack of robust national definitions of harm and gambling related harm.
Focus group sessions were then conducted with people who had been identified as having experienced harm from their own or someone else’s gambler. These focus groups were facilitated by trained interviewers and participants were compensated for their time with a store voucher.
Individuals were then asked to describe the type and extent of harm that they had experienced from their own or someone else’s gambling. Initially, they were asked to provide information about the type and extent of their own harm as well as any harm that they had experienced from their partner, friend or family member’s gambling.
Those who provided information about the type and extent of their own or someone else’s harm were more likely to report that they had suffered more severe harm from their own or someone else’s betting. These participants reported that their own and someone else’s harm was accompanied by an increased level of difficulty in coping with their situation or difficulties in managing their gambling habits.